A Note to Mothers

This a note of caution to Mothers as we approach the 7th anniversary of my Mother’s death, Beverly Margaret Herman (Mahura), on December 25, 2015. The untold story.

Why is this note a) a note of caution, and b) why was my Mom’s death needless?

Mom died at 4:30 pm EST on Christmas Day 2015. Six months earlier (June 10, 2015) Mom had a biopsy on a large tumor near the top of her lung. The tumor was full of blood and had started to bleed into my Mom’s esophagus. When the surgeon came out of the operating room following her biopsy, the first thing he told me was Mom had Stage 4 Lung Cancer and that Mom was at risk of the tumor bursting and Mom choking on her own blood. The biopsy was at 11 am and the surgeon had already scheduled an appointment with an oncologist for 2 pm the same day.

Meeting with the oncologist, the doctor asked Mom a few preliminary questions and then asked “Bev, how much blood do you cough up at a time?” Mom held out the right palm of her hand, cupped it upwards, and said “about this much” …a handful of blood.

Mom went through the usual regime of chemo and radiation treatments during the month of July 2015 and was told to return on October 1st to meet again with the oncologist. Mom’s cancer didn’t improve over the months of August and September. Mom returned home to where the whole family cared for her until the last few days before her death on Christmas Day.

On Wednesday morning, December 23, 2015, my brother Brad scooped up our Mother in his arms, gently placed her in his SUV, and drove Mom to the Ian Anderson House, a beautiful hospice a short distance from the North shore of Lake Ontario in Oakville, Ontario. Mom died peacefully a few days later, on Christmas Day afternoon, surrounded by her family.

This is the story most people who knew Mom have been told. It’s factually correct. What’s missing from Mom’s story is that the bleeding and incessant coughing and clearing of her throat had started a year, maybe two years earlier. Mom had visited her general physician several times over the period but no further diagnosis or treatment or other follow-up took place (as far as we know).

During this time, Dad was not well. Dad’s kidneys were failing and he went to the renal clinic at Credit View Hospital 3 times a week, 3 hours per day. Mom drove Dad to dialysis every day and stayed with him until he was released each afternoon. Mom also cared for the 5 of us children. I was 58 years old at the time of Mom’s lung cancer diagnosis and my youngest brother Brad was 52. Each of us 5 kids had different challenges: divorce, health, and work issues, etc. Mom was quite literally run off her feet by her family as her (undiagnosed) lung cancer progressed and spread.

Mom had many retirement wishes that were never realized. With Dad being a retired Air Canada senior airline pilot and instructor, Mom especially looked forward to flying First Class and traveling abroad – Europe, in particular – because she had previously been unable to venture very far as a stay-at-home Mother with 5 kids. Mom especially wanted to go on one of those Rhine River cruises you see advertised on the television. None of this came to pass. The demands of her family (particularly healthcare issues in Dad’s case) resulted in Mom’s non-stop caring for her family to continue until the last 6 months of her life. Mom died at age 80.

What’s the note of caution to mothers? If you have sons or daughters that continue to demand your care, attention, and time – even into their adulthood (everyday tasks like cooking, cleaning, folding laundry, babysitting, etc.), resist the temptation.

Resist those maternal genes that kick in and make you feel obligated to put aside your personal happiness, personal aspirations, and personal desires. Your adult children will be able to figure things out on their own – it’s mandatory.

Live *your* life and live it to the fullest.

Best wishes for a long and happy life,
Michael

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